Trade unionists speak out against low pay

Trade unionists speak out against low pay

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Coventry TUC campaigning against low pay

An event was held today in Broadgate Square on Saturday to highlight the effects of the Tory pay cap on vital public sector workers in our city. Organised by Coventry TUC, a number of speakers addressed shoppers explaining what pay cuts mean to working class people. Since 2010, many workers have lost thousands of pounds in real terms as the increase in the cost of living outstrips wages.

Across the public and private sector workers lose out whilst those at the top increase their wealth. Already there are cracks in the pay cap, now it is the task of the unions to organise action to not only break the cap, but to put an end to this Tory government.

Save Coventry Libraries campaigner speaks as Cheylesmore library set for closure

Save Coventry Libraries campaigner speaks as Cheylesmore library set for closure

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Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

We have been sent the following article by Save Coventry Libraries campaigner Sarah Smith.

Cheylesmore Library will be closing on 10/8/2017.  Okay, so it’s earmarked to be re-opening as a community run Library on 4th September; why all the fuss you ask?

First of all, that is a whole three weeks and four days that a community will be without a library; just when it needs it the most, due to it being the summer holidays.

The government and local councils have NOT done a full investigation into the impact of community/volunteer solely ran libraries, however, they do know this, the average life span for a community/volunteer solely ran library is 18 months, where there has been only a handful of exceptions. Therefore when this happens it appears like they aren’t responsible for the closure of the libraries but the community/volunteers are.

Not only do they give up the responsibility to run these libraries, but they also give up responsibility for the safety of you. These volunteers are not CRB checked.  They will not be trained to deal with medical or other emergencies that occur, such as safe guarding issues, etc.

They are not even obliged to even open up the library as in if volunteers don’t turn up to open it then the library just doesn’t open.

Finally…

Council’s across the country do not have to impose the cut backs imposed by central government, they could spend reserves and form a campaign against central government for more money; better still, they could say no, if they wanted to and if our local councillors & MP’s refuse to do this, then maybe it’s time to elect those who will stand up for the people of Coventry.

Join the protest outside Cheylesmore Library on Thursday August 10th at 6pm!

Organising for safe homes in Coventry

Organising for safe homes in Coventry

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On Tuesday 1st August, Coventry Socialist Party held a public meeting in Hillfields about a new campaign for housing safety in Coventry.

Attendees included a number of local residents from tower blocks from a number of different areas of Coventry, all keen not just to highlight their own concerns and experiences but also to get involved and take action in organising a campaign on housing safety – an issue which has really come to the forefront in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, which has left at least 80 people dead.

There was a very determined tone to the meeting – it was pointed out that what happened at Grenfell was a symptom of a capitalist system that puts profit before people, and holds working class people in complete contempt.

Local residents raised such issues as fire alarms being removed from tower blocks and housing provider Whitefriars charging tenants for repairs – up to £600 in some cases!

One of the main proposals of the meeting – to get local residents organised in tenants’ groups – was well received, with plans now underway to have tenants of three different tower blocks organise door-knocking and petitioning of other residents in their own flats.

The demands mentioned discussed include the fitting of sprinklers in all tower blocks – a recommendation consistently made by coroners following three different tower block fires nationally since 2005. As also mentioned in the meeting, the vital importance of a fully-functioning sprinkler system was starkly shown by the difference between the fire in Grenfell Tower and in a hotel in Dubai – a very similar structure but for a sprinkler system – in 2016. In the latter, nobody was killed.

It was clear that pressure must also be put on local landlords to fully enforce the highest safety standards across all housing in Coventry – private or social – and pressure should be put on local councillors to help tenants organise and fight for our rights. This is far from an impossible demand – Birmingham City Council, owning the majority of tower blocks in the West Midlands, will be carrying out the installation of sprinklers in all tower blocks across the city!

As we have made clear in a previous article, “We cannot afford a system which treats our lives with such contempt, and gives them so little value in comparison to those whose interests it was created solely to represent”. We have to link these issues to the overall demand to bring all housing back under public ownership. This is also linked to our demands to change society along socialist lines: to bring all infrastructure and the economy into the democratic control of working class people. For a society run for people, not profit!

Are you a tower block resident and want to get involved? Fill in the form below!

Hundreds attend #Justice4Daz campaign launch meeting and march

Hundreds attend #Justice4Daz campaign launch meeting and march

Over 200 people came to the launch meeting of the #Justice4Daz campaign last week, which was set up after Coventry man Darren Cumberbatch died after “contact” with the police – the third black man to die in such circumstances in a month, after Edson da Costa and Rashan Charles. Hundreds also joined a march in Nuneaton on Saturday.

The meeting was chaired by Reverend Desmond Jaddoo, who asked the question on many people’s minds – “why was this healthy 32 year old man torn away from his family and from the community?”

The meeting heard that Darren left his sister Carla’s house on Sunday July 9th “healthy and in great form”, and that the police only informed the family that he was in George Eliot Hospital on Wednesday 12th. Witnesses said he had been “battered” by police, and had black eyes and burns on his body. He told a friend he had been Tasered 9 times.

Speakers at the meeting called for the use of Tasers to be suspended due to concerns about their safety, and for the officers involved in Darren’s death to be suspended immediately. Concerns were also raised about the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), who were described as “not fit for purpose”.

A speaker from Black Conscious Coventry argued that the problems within the police are systemic and rooted in the capitalist system: “Policing is not there to protect the community, it’s there to protect property and big corporations.”

Hundreds also marched through Nuneaton from the train station to McIntyre House, where Darren was staying, and on to the police station. The march was led by friends and family of Darren. Marchers laid flowers and candles outside McIntyre House.

The march then proceeded to the police station where Darren’s sister, Carla, spoke. Luke, a witness from the night when Darren “came into contact” with police, also spoke: “Something kicked off around 2 o’clock in the morning. I heard him screaming, I heard him shouting. The police were there. He was screaming for help. He was asking, ‘What have I done?’ I heard no reply. I heard tasers – no warning of tasers. I heard CS gas – no warning of CS gas … That night there was something going on that shouldn’t have been going on by police.”

Ryan Rochester, chair of the Coventry branch of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said: “This happened three weeks ago and we still haven’t had a statement from the police. There is video footage from the incident – when are we going to see it? The longer people have to wait the more doubt there is on the validity of what is going on.”

 

 

Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

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Jane Nellist

We are pleased to carry this article from Socialist Party member Jane Nellist regarding the public sector pay cap. The article was originally published in a recent issue of The Socialist newspaper. Jane is joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers and a member of the NEC of her union, as well as being President of Coventry TUC (she writes here in a personal capacity)


Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap!

A stark new report by the government’s own advisors on public sector pay has shown that there was a 6% drop in average wages from 2005 to 2015.

That’s reflected in a £3 an hour loss for teachers, £2 an hour for police officers and £8 an hour for doctors.

More experienced teachers have lost as much as £5,000 a year because of pay restraint, and that doesn’t include the loss from increases in pension and National Insurance contributions.

There is a growing anger among public sector workers about low pay and funding cuts to the services they deliver. The Tories are wobbling on the public sector pay cap, with many cabinet members – fearing mass revolt – coming out for change.

But we cannot rely on their ‘good nature’! They’ll just cut somewhere else to pay for it. We must come out fighting.

At the 1 July ‘Not One Day More’ demo Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants’ union, absolutely nailed it when he posed the question: “Why don’t we have a public sector pay strike to break the pay cap?”

As each day goes by, the Tories are getting weaker. Even though mathematically they have a small majority, propped up by the billion-pound bribe for votes from the DUP, they have no authority.

And it’s not only pay they’re showing weakness on, some have hinted at tuition fees being on the table too. As their poll ratings plummet, they are more divided. We need to push harder to put them out of their misery.

The recent demo was vibrant and young. Labour’s manifesto started to lift aspirations on so many fronts. The mantra of austerity, ‘we are all in it together,’ is dead.

The mood is changing and there is a tangible feeling of victory in the air. That can become a reality, but only if the leadership of our trade unions starts to lead.

Now is the time to organise the millions of public sector workers in a serious coordinated campaign, including strike action, to win back dignity for public sector workers and the services we deliver.

3 years on from the J1O strike

3 years on from the J10 strike

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Ginger Jentzen address the rally

Today marks 3 years since public sector workers in Coventry and across the country took action against pay cuts, attacks on pensions and in defence of public services. It gave a glimpse of the power of workers from different unions striking together. Here in Coventry the strike was very well supported, with workers being given a boost by Socialist Alternative member Ginger Jentzen who was visiting from the United States. Ginger spoke at a 500 strong rally in Broadgate Square bringing solidarity from American workers and Socialist Alternative in the US.  To see pictures and reports of the picket lines, read our article here.

With the focus being brought back on to public sector pay, trade union members and activists needs to discuss the lessons of previous pay campaigns in order to make sure this time we win a decent pay rise as well as getting rid of the Tories. We encourage readers of this site to have a look at the article by Socialist Party trade union organiser Rob Williams who discusses how we can take the movement forward.

Want to help break the pay cap and get the Tories out? Fill in the form below!

 

Government to press ahead with Jobcentre closures

Government to press ahead with Jobcentre closures

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DWP workers take strike action in Coventry

By a Jobcentre worker and PCS union member

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has disgracefully announced that almost 1 in 10 Jobcentres nationally will be closed. Along with this, two other Jobcentres that were originally meant to stay open are also now due to close.

Of the original 78 Jobcentres earmarked for closure, only 6 will stay open, and 11 of the 80 planned to ‘co-locate’ have been spared – although this is only due to the lack of space in council buildings!

One of the Jobcentres which will close by the end of March next year is Coventry’s Tile Hill Jobcentre – with a government proposal/consultation response stating that it is reasonable for claimants to travel further on public to ‘sign on’, despite the threat of a sanction for missing or being late to an appointment!

The u-turn on the closure of some of the Jobcentres, such as Glasgow Castlemilk, is an example of the potential for victory that can come from a co-ordinated campaign involving trade unions, claimants, and other groups such as DPAC. This mass action is needed across the board to prevent the closure of any more Jobcentres – which will see hundreds of job losses and have a damaging impact on the most vulnerable in society.

Workers at Sheffield Eastern Avenue Jobcentre had a week-long walkout in June, and will be going out on strike between 17-21 July.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“It is utterly disgraceful that DWP is pressing ahead with these closures.

“This Tory government is abandoning unemployed, sick and disabled people, making it harder for them to access the services they need, and putting jobcentre jobs at risk. We will continue to oppose these plans in every way we can.”

The Socialist Party says:

• Oppose all closures! For a mass campaign involving unions, claimants and other groups to end this attack on workers and claimants alike!

Public meeting – build the fight against the Tories and for socialist polices

Public meeting – build the fight against the Tories and for socialist polices

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After the general election result, which shocked the Tories and the capitalist class, Theresa May is attempting to cling onto power by forming an unholy alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies powered Labour to a 40% share of the vote – the Tories are rightly terrified that if they don’t keep power he could win an election. We need to step up the fight against them!

We are holding a public meeting on Tuesday 13th June to discuss the election and how we build the struggle against them. The meeting is at the Methodist Central Hall at 7.30. Please share and come along!

​The election battle lines are drawn – the view from Nuneaton

​The election battle lines are drawn – the view from Nuneaton

We have received this article from a Socialist Party member in Nuneaton regarding the forthcoming general election. Readers may remember that Nuneaton was seen as a key marginal in the 2015 election.

The Labour and Conservative manifestos are hot off the printing press and for the first time in a number of years, there is a difference.

Both the Labour and Conservative manifesto offer a vision for Britain, one of society ran for the many and not the few, or one of continued austerity and misery for working class people but tax breaks for the rich.

This was clearly seen on The Andrew Marr Show recently, during a debate between John McDonnell and Damian Green. When discussing Labour’s proposed programme of what is in reality modest nationalisation, Green accused McDonnell of not understanding capitalism, McDonnell quipped back that clearly Green does as he had profited from the rip off that is our privatised water industry. Dead right John!

Whereas the Tories look at essential industries and just see avenues for profit and potential cash cows, Jeremy Corbyn sees essential services that should benefit everybody, be publicly ran, and not used to make a handful of people rich at the expense of the many.

However, the Labour manifesto, despite offering a change from the austerity politics of the Tories, and the austerity-lite policies of the Blair-Brown-Miliband years, falls short of providing a decisive break with capitalism, which we believe is the root of all our problems.

Labour’s plan to renationalise the railways, bringing back into public ownership rail services as current contracts expire, will still leave railways in the hands of private-profiteers for over a decade. The ‘nationalisation’ of the energy industry is a modest plan of setting up a publicly ran company to compete with the others, much like the plans for buss services. Although these are good steps, they fall short of the immediate, democratic nationalisation of key industries and still leave working class people to be exploited and forced to pay rip of prices for train tickets or choose between eating or heating.

Despite these plans being by historical standards very modest, they have been received by the right-wing press with mass hysteria. This is because the capitalist elite fear these modest gains for working people and fear the hopes that a Corbyn led government could give working class people. Whereas they have enjoyed 7 years of growth, with the wealth of the richest 1% of people increasing year on year- with a 14% increase last year alone according to the Sunday Times rich list the rest of us have faced falling living standards due to the cruel austerity politics of both the Tory-Lib Dem coalition and the current government. A Corbyn led government threatens to undermine this.

If given a taste of modest reforms under Corbyn, the ruling elites fear this could cause working class people to want more, which would threaten the vast amounts of wealth they have acquired while the rest of us have suffered. As the saying goes, “appetite grows with eating.”

Although Corbyn’s manifesto is modest, it offers an alternative way of doing things. Although the Socialist Party argues that Corbyn should be bolder, like Melenchon was during the French Presidential election, we back Corbyn and the change in direction he represents and are campaigning for a Corbyn victory.

Although we argue that Corbyn could be bolder with his policies and offer a break with capitalism, the battle lines of this election have been drawn and on election day we will have to choose which side we are on. Are you on the side of Corbyn and for a society that looks after the elderly, gives young people a chance at life with free education, ensures that more people are paid a wage they can live on with a £10hr minimum wage and seeks to change society to be run for the many and not the few? Or are you on the side of Tories and the wealthy elite, for continued austerity for us but tax cuts for wealthiest, for taking the food out of children’s mouths as free school meals are scrapped, or for the continued privatisation of the NHS?

However, whatever the result of the election, the battle for a fairer society and for socialism will still need to be fought. The Labour Party machine is still in the hands of the Blairites who seek to undermine Corbyn and the alternative he represents, especially in the West Midlands. There can be no more talk of ‘unity’ with these professional ‘Red Tories’ who have sought to take Labour back to the Blair-Mandelson days.

If you want to join this fight then stand with us, join the Socialist Party and get involved in the day to day campaigning we do. We support Corbyn and will be making the argument for a Corbyn-led government based on socialist policies.

Hundreds march for the NHS in Leamington

5a7c0dce-b50f-400f-b35e-2951450e4663.jpgHundreds march for the NHS in Leamington

Hundreds of people staged a lively and spirited march through Leamington on Sunday in defence of the NHS.

They reflect a growing alarm amongst ever wider parts of British society that their NHS is under threat from under staffing and under funding and is under attack from this government.

Local services face cutbacks from the so-called ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STP’s) that guest speaker Dr Youssef el Gingihy rightly called the ‘Slash Trash and Privatise’ plans.

The march was organised by South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public and was supported by parents campaigning against cuts to their school budgets.

As the crowd gathered by the park bandstand, they heard organiser Anna Pollert say that the march had been a follow up to the huge national demonstration in defence of the NHS that took place on March 4th, but that now, the recent calling of the general election  had made the issue of defending the NHS as a public service even more urgent.

Other speakers included health workers, Councillor Matt Western, school staff and a 12 year old school student.

Dr El Gingihy, author of the book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps”, explained that in legal terms the NHS had already been abolished. There are still GP’s and hospitals but underneath it has been changed. In the ‘dark days’ of the 90’s the creation of markets and introduction of private finance was preparation to end the NHS as we know it.

They now plan to reduce 7,500 GP surgeries to only 1500 and reduce the number of A&E hospitals to between only 40-70.  The last parliament removed government responsibility to provide health care and now ever greater parts of the NHS were being sold off to corporations to make profits from illness. This he explained was paving the way for a private insurance system on the US model.

Outlining the cuts of £40 billion planned to be made by the early 2020’s, Youssef also reminded us of the one positive thing. That we can change this! That we must mobilise.

The huge demonstration in March and the energy in this protest in Leamington show that we will not let our NHS be stolen from future generations without a fight. The growing number of local protests and of local campaigning groups shows that the potential to beat the profiteers and maintain top notch health care is there.

Whatever the result on June 8, whether we will need to resist the Tory government or campaign to ensure Jeremy Corbyn can stand up to powerful financial interests, we are going to need to campaign, to mobilise and to fight to defend our NHS.